Blogs Policy Issues in Extension

BLOG – 86: Extension Census -The Prerequisite for Strengthening Extension

Without having sufficient knowledge of ‘who is doing what’ in the increasingly pluralistic extension and advisory landscape, the country would fail to achieve convergence and provide quality extension support to farmers, argues Shri Suresh Kumar.


The Committee on Doubling Farmers Income (DFI) in its draft report, Vol. XI (Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India, 2017) has proposed to transform agriculture extension as an important engine for doubling farmers’ income. It has made various recommendations while setting the strategic direction for agriculture extension over the years so as to double farmers’ income by 2022. It has also examined the paucity of extension manpower, and suggested various measures to achieve the same.


The committee has recommended minimum ratio of extension service provider to farming family: 1:400 in Hilly areas; 1:750 in Irrigated areas; and 1:1000 in Rainfed areas. The Committee has provided the current status of manpower in Agriculture Extension in Table 4.1 on page 66 of the report. It has revealed that the current ratio of operational holdings per extension functionary was 1:1162. However, while many states may get at par with the needed ratio if 30% of vacancies are filled up, other states, including big states such as Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, would continue to suffer because of manpower shortage and hence would need additional sanctions.

Present experience indicates difficulties not only in new sanctions but also in filling up vacancies. Although the number of operational holdings is as per the 2010 census, this shall keep increasing with the continuous break up of holdings. Therefore, while making efforts for new sanctions and filling up vacancies is important, yet efforts need to be made to achieve the objective with the existing status of extension manpower.


While recognising pluralism in extension delivery, the report noted that (paragraph 1.4.1) currently extension services are provided by various agencies representing public and private sector players. The list of extension service providers is indicated in Fig. 1.2 of the draft report.

It shows 107 categories of public and private extension service providers. This includes 22 institutions of DCA&FW, 4 institutions of DARE including ICAR,KVKs and CAUs, four institutions of DAH,D&F, 8 belonging to the Ministry of Commerce, 22 Inter Governmental Institutions, and 16 categories of private extension service providers.

Besides these, on page 68, the Committee has identified the vast network of institutions in delivery of credit- linked extension activities, including the immense cooperative network and public and private sector banking network.

On page 69 the Committee has identified various other agencies that provide core extension, including 1.57 lakh common service centres, and self-help groups. There are

1.71 lakh milk cooperatives as well as cooperatives and institutions for fisheries, bee keeping, etc.

The Committee also notes that extension resources active in the field and thus available for extension is huge and belongs to diverse organisations and sectors, and are not limited to only those working within the ambit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare agriculture or the agriculture sector. Organisations listed in the DFI Committee report are those known to the ministry. There would be a large number, particularly in the private sector, which may be unknown to the ministry as it would only be aware of those service providers in the agriculture sector known to them.


Despite the large network of public and private extension service providers the Committee has recognised several important concerns on page 9 of the report. One of its main concern is as follows:

Does there exist an institutional mechanism to review and converge the number of extension functionaries and the extension approaches adopted by private sector?

The report notes that “While the private sector plays an important role in agriculture extension it is natural that they would concentrate more on providing information to farmers that is related to their commercial interests, and on marketing their products. These efforts need to be made complimentary and supplementary to public extension efforts. There is scope to develop a mechanism to converge all the private extension efforts onto a single platform and achieve the needed coordination to serve larger areas and an increased number of activities. Synergy in effort by the two systems will benefit the farmers better. This will become an example of Public-private platform of extension machinery”.


In paragraph 2.4 (page 22) of the report, “Agriculture demands added role from extension manpower” the Committee has listed 24 roles under agriculture extension in Table 2.1. The success expected by government in revitalising the agriculture sector and doubling farmers’ income depends upon extension being able to perform these 24 functions as anticipated.

Table 1: Roles under Agricultural Extension

  • Providing information on going schemes and programs in agriculture & allied sectors
  • Capacity building, Skilling in emerging areas
  • Advocacy on farmers’ interests
  • Counselling for farmers’ well-being
  • Credit facilitation
  • Critical assistance in risk management including climate change, crop insurance etc
  • Documentation and Reporting roles
  • Enforcement of Farmers’ Charters
  • Issuing Advisories on soil health management, water conservation, pest management etc.
  • Facilitating access to production and post-production inputs & data
  • Facilitation & feedback
  • Friend, philosopher and guide to farmers
  • Engaging in research planning
  • Promoting projectised mode of extension delivery
  • ICT enabled services
  • Intermediation
  • Linking farmers to markets
  • Building managerial competence
  • Linking     various     support     &     service networks
  • Organizing user/producer groups
  • Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
  • PPP Promotion
  • Promoter of farmer led innovations
  • Redressal of grievances
  • Technology selection, etc
  • Feedback to research system


Performing the above-mentioned roles require massive resource commitment in terms of manpower, finances, and infrastructure. Resource commitment on this scale cannot be provided whether by central government or state government. The only option is by converging all extension efforts as recommended by the Committee. This, therefore, becomes a prerequisite for taking various other initiatives and efforts as recommended by the Committee for meeting the challenge of doubling farmers’ income.


Creating a database of all extension service providers and resources is the first step towards convergence of extension efforts. Accordingly, an Extension Census needs to be conducted to map all extension service providers and extension resources. Methodology for the same will need to be evolved – including formats for collection of data, creating a platform for collection of data, actual collection and compilation of data, and creating protocols for their storage, protection, and retrieval. This will, furthermore, call for a digital platform wherein information can be uploaded by the concerned extension service providers. Further steps for convergence can thereafter be taken, which itself is a big exercise.


ESP census needs to be a census of extension resources that is not restricted just to extension personnel. A few suggestions may be considered:

  1. For each ESP extension resources may be indicated including personnel, infrastructure and activities including funding commitment;
  2. Personnel may include numbers and skill sets as also whether they are regular or contractual;
  3. Work done over the years;
  4. Terms and conditions of resource deployment, including geographical area;
  5. Census may include every ESP who can contribute and should not be restricted only to those belonging to the agriculture sector. A large number of other organisations may be willing and keen to contribute, including contribution under CSR.


  1. The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare should designate a nodal institution to conduct census, and to create and manage the database as its custodian. MANAGE appears to be the natural institution for this task. Alternatively, the ministry may designate another suitable organisation.
  2. The nodal organisation should set up a dedicated cell for this purpose instead of trying to carry out the work through existing staff.
  3. The nodal institution should conduct a workshop for probable major ESPs in order to flesh out the concept in detail. Basic information may be collected and compiled in the workshop.
  4. A start can be made with the information compiled from the

Shri Suresh Kumar, former Additional Chief Secretary & Principal Secretary (Agriculture),  Government of Maharashtra acted as the Chairman of the 12th Plan “Working Group on Agricultural Extension for Agriculture and Allied Sectors” constituted by the Planning Commission.  (



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  • Congrats to Suresh Kumar Sir for a thought provoking blog on extension census. Though you have suggested innovative ideas like community of practice earlier, they are still to be discussed, debated and acted upon by our extension fraternity, which disturbs me. Sir, I may flag the following for your response – Who is doing what is important,. Equally or more important is how. – Its not the quantity alone, quality of manpower is also a critical factor – The concept of convergence and various types and forms of convergence should be clear to the extension personnel I still doubt whether they have properly conceived this concept. – The roles are not clearly defined and depicted in the DFI report you have mentioned There is need for much role clarity. For instance, there is duplication as in the case of facilitation. – To me it appears that instead of extension census, extension audit would be more meaningful, since this captures the quality of service also. – Sir, you have indicated in one of the interactions that competence of extension personnel should be mapped, which is very much needed. Hope CRISP/AESA will attempt on this

  • Extension census is really an aspiring concept. It should not be restricted to macro level, but should be done at micro level also.It can take into account the regional variation in existence and performance of various agencies. During peoples plan program of Kerala, details various agencies at gram panchayat level and their potential involvement were compiled.

  • An excellent blog. The DFI committee report talks about creation of a National level Ranking Framework for Extension Service Providers (NLRFW) to facilitate formation of healthy and functional PPPs (Page 38) with MANAGE and Extension division of ICAR identified as the nodal agencies. Perhaps this is pointing to the same needs as articulated in this blog, at least partly.

  • It is a timely, well written blog to initiate action to collect, maintain, analyse, use and periodically update needed details for systematically planning expanding pluralistic extension landscape in the country. The tips provided are from a wise expert and should be pursued to meet his vision and promote farmers welfare. I also feel that MANAGE is the right nodal institution to steer this great task